Nutrition

The top 8 things you're wasting your calories on

Author: Canadian Living

Nutrition

The top 8 things you're wasting your calories on

Are you spending your calories in all the wrong places? Not sure which foods are worthwhile nutritional investments and which foods are empty calories all dressed up as delicious? If you need to cut corners, look no further than your day-to-day eating habits and you'll probably find large holes in your diet pockets.

The liquid diet
If your daily drink repertoire includes orange juice in the morning, a latte to get you going, a pop at lunch and wine at dinner, you're adding over 500 calories to your diet. Registered dietician and certified diabetes educator Jean LaMantia says, "Your body doesn't compensate well for liquid calories," and cites pop as one of the worst offenders. Quench your thirst with water and keep a reusable bottle on hand to avoid temptation.

Whipping it
Just when you thought your Starbucks order couldn't get any wordier, there are a few more adjectives you should throw at your barista: non-fat, sugar-free and no-whip. Skip the extras and you'll save up to 200 calories on your coffee concoction. But the best way to keep the calories at bay is to order coffee or tea – each under five calories before the fixings.   

The wrong side
Soup, salad or fries? A daunting question, to be sure, but fries are never the answer. A standard restaurant serving adds more than 500 calories to any meal, while a serving of soup or a garden salad with vinaigrette dressing usually adds closer to 100. Restaurant meals are excessively high in calories on their own, so choosing the right side is a matter of damage control.

Topping up
Since we no longer live in a world where Hawaiian is the most exotic thing at the local pizzeria, a tasty pie doesn't have to be dieter's kryptonite. Choosing a thin or whole wheat crust with grilled chicken or fresh vegetables will help cut the calories and up the nutritional value. Case in point: grabbing a few slices of a large vegetarian thin-crust pizza over a few slices of a large stuffed-crust Meat Lover's pizza at Pizza Hut will save you 200 calories.

Page 1 of 2Lack of grains
White flour is costly at 480 calories per cup, warns LaMantia. "Choosing whole grain means you are getting the bran, germ and endosperm in the same ratio that they exist in nature, but white flour is stripped of these nutrients," she says. Read your labels, and stick to whole grain breads and cereals.

Over dressing
Salad dressing and condiments can load calories onto your meal if you're not careful. A 30g serving of ranch dressing holds 120 calories, so stick to vinaigrettes and make them at home – it takes no time and you can control the caloric content. When choosing condiments, it's best to remember that less is more: a serving is only a tablespoon. Mayonnaise makes a formidable foe at 100 calories per serving, so pick mustard (9 calories) or ketchup (15 calories) when dressing your burger or sandwich.

Milking it
If it's impossible to satisfy your sweet tooth, LaMantia says the least you can do is go dark. "Milk chocolate has a higher sugar content than dark chocolate, so while you may be feeding your cravings, you'll need another sweet fix when your blood sugar comes down." A 40g serving of milk chocolate has 230 calories, and while the same amount of dark chocolate is only 17 fewer calories, the reduced sugar and increase of antioxidants makes it a sound investment. Afraid of the dark side? Start with 50 per cent cocoa content and work your way up.

Freeloading

When counting calories, it's easy to overlook the in-between bites: treats at the office, free samples or a few handfuls of your friend's popcorn. Obviously the calories you're adding differ from snack to snack, but unless you're sneaking apple slices, chances are it's costing you. Two cups of buttered theatre popcorn, for instance, packs 160 calories. Keep a food diary and record everything you eat; owning up to it at the end of the day will have you wondering how "free" that sample really was.

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Healthy snacks on the go
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Nutrition

The top 8 things you're wasting your calories on

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